Business Growth Pain

August 7th, 2018

Losing Control

Why do more founders of small businesses spend more time thinking about relinquishing control as they scale their business than dealing with it? Let me be clear, I am not talking about selling the business, I am talking about relinquishing aspects of the business that bore them or they are least effective in (agreeing new personal accountabilities and behaviours).

I’ll tell you why, they are constantly second-guessing themselves, and they are fearful of being judged. Their default is to procrastinate, knowing that they cannot be held accountable if a definitive decision is not made. The founder’s problem is the stress and pain builds each day with the increasing demands co-investors, clients, peers, employees and business partners put on them.

That needn’t be the case if they are looking at the horizon, not at their toes. If they are willing to make decisions, accept prudent risk and not revert to their former self. If you need help, find an experienced entrepreneur as you proceed, who has accomplished what you want to accomplish and can help you translate the changes to your personal circumstances, ahead of time. 

Copyright James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved. 

Idiotic Management Award: John Hazell, Rocketism

July 30th, 2018

There are the clueless, who want your business and then there are the charlatans. Over the past month, a guy called John Hazell at a London marketing firm, Rocketism, has spam emailed me on five occasions. He doesn’t know me. The tone of his approach descends into increasingly passive aggressive suggestions about why I need him when I don’t respond and uniformed assertions about my business. This is a guy, who you cannot make it up ran a business, clearly unsuccessfully, called “Half Baked Ideas Ltd”, and insists on a comic strip personal photo on his website. He has held junior positions at EMI and he makes himself out to be a marketing genius for professional service firms! He is not that, he is an utter disgrace to his profession. Buyer beware.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Uncommon Summer Work Experience

July 30th, 2018

If you have a son or daughter undertaking work experience or an internship this Summer , “doing good” might be your child’s droll response but that isn’t going to make them an object of interest to anyone in a future business setting. Ask them

  1. Which of these “how to’s” below they have acquired and successfully applied.
  2. How that has demonstrably helped their immediate boss, the business they have worked for or their clients (results and value).
  3. Ask them to pick 5 examples, and in a few powerful sentences, string that together in a brief conversation starter.

“I spent the Summer working for XX at YYY company, where I dramatically improved my understanding of [list the “how to” knowledge]. In return, my boss/my employer/their clients was able to accomplish the following [list the problems solved, the improvements made or the better client experience] with my help.

We’ve agreed to stay in touch and I am proposing to update them [in person, by phone or in writing] on DD/MM/YY about my progress and ideas to help their business growth.”

Don’t forget to encourage them to add “volume” with the use of powerful adjectives before each benefit for the employer. It is never too early to make a strong first impression.

Yet far too many Parents and kids, lean on family friends and colleagues for favours in securing employment but they overlook the actual learning and development success, the importance of disciplined follow up, and reciprocity, in eliciting repeat work and referral opportunities.  Perhaps that says more about the Parents sloth than that of their children.

How To’s Checklist

  • Networking
  • Decision-Making
  • Time Management
  • Team Building
  • Customer Service
  • Speaking Skills
  • Motivation
  • Humour
  • Ethics
  • Negotiating
  • Problem Solving
  • Planning
  • Writing Skills
  • Technology
  • Sales Skills
  • Use of Media
  • Futurism
  • Health + Wellness
  • Building self-esteem
  • Priority Setting
  • Image Building
  • Managing Change
  • Listening Skills
  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Leadership
  • Diverse experiences
  • Career Management
  • Innovation
  • Empowerment
  • Relationship Building
  • Rewarding Behaviour
  • Add others to your list

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Actual “Skin In The Game”

July 27th, 2018

Having “skin in the game” as most people understand it, the amount of personal money at risk, is one of the biggest myths in private company investing. If you are willing to be intellectually honest, it is about the symmetry of risk and reward amongst the key constituents and the personal consequences for each individual after they are done with the investment. Specifically, putting your “neck on the line”, is the sum of four elements: “financial” (impact on personal/professional lifestyle choices), “intellectual” (trust in your intellect and talent), “social” (impact on family, friends, communities and so forth) and “cultural” (impact on the beliefs that inform your attitudes and behaviour). Work that out and you can really see what the actual alignment is, not what people say it is.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Back To A Print Media Future

July 12th, 2018

 

When you are skiing down a slope into a descending fog and suddenly lose sight of the blue, red or green piste signs, a sudden “fear” engulfs experienced and inexperienced skiers. That very same “fear” is pervading management in most global print media companies. The fear that erodes trust in their own judgement. Talking to BBC broadcaster, Evan Davis, last week about what advice he would give to a 24 year old “Evan” considering a career in journalism today. His honest response was that he couldn’t see a viable career path in mainstream broadcast, print or digital media, at least one that is reasonably remunerated. “It’s is nearly all in an irreversible decline.”Traditional reference points have gone or are heavily obscured (distributors, customers, advertisers and so forth).

The future is a divergence into two dominant forms,

  1. “Convenience Media”, where the customer experience is all about shorter, snappier bite-sized reading, knowledge and entertainment.
  2. “Immersive Media”, where the  customer is able to direct their passion, energy and time towards in-depth learning, knowledge acquisition and entertainment.

It is about two axis: “speed” of absorbing what I need to now (convenience media ) and the “customer experience”, how easily does it conform to each customer’s preferences.

A world where “quality” is THE key determinant in attracting customers, converting them into paying subscribers and building loyalty.

Look at at The Wall Street Journal. 2.5 million daily newspaper readers are roughly split 50/50 print versus digital. The European and Asian  print versions ceased in 2017 largely driven by the impact of changes in advertisers’ behaviour, on the management’s judgement. The future they scream is all about an adaptive paywall, allowing users to test-drive the digital offerings, and through targeted global promotion and offers to lure them as subscribers into a vast array of offerings including the WSJ+ Benefits program. Yet old habits die hard.

Reading a print newspaper is both the easiest form of convenience media and immersive media for an urban dweller. I can pick it up, put it down at any point, no need to tap into a backlit screen to access it, no need to squeeze it onto a narrow picture frame, no tired eyes and an easy way to “gift it” to customers in a company waiting rooms. A three-dimensional brand offering.  In their wisdom, the WSJ have struck out that option for its’ European and Asian audiences. The reality is that a reliance on higher tech is creating a lower touch customer experience, less brand loyalty, less volition for advertisers to spend and increasing irrelevance in Europe and Asia.  Why would you do that unless you are paralysed by fear of the future, you default to cost saving, increasing consolidation and reducing customer choice in a multi-media world?  Think bigger.

I am with Tyler Brûlé, Editor-in-Chief of media publication, Monocle, high quality print media has a very strong future in a commercial world so long as management don’t stop trusting their own judgement.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

UK’s Tech Gem

July 6th, 2018

I have just finished a week of speaking to Thai and Swiss fintech and insurtech delegations here in London. There is a marvel at the high tech “community” that the UK and in particular, London, has created, built and exploited globally. I am talking about a digital community experience where people interact frequently, are drawn together by the quality of the people “present”, acts as peers, reciprocate and in so doing, help everyone live a more fulfilling life. Entrepreneurs, investors, venture builders, advisers, large corporates and governmental organisations in harmony. It is incredibly difficult to create community, as this week’s visitors readily pointed out. It requires a strong brand, impressive new intellectual property, fearless promotion and new ideas.

Those who bemoan the waning global appeal of the UK in a post-Brexit world, might want to take note of Britain’s singular success.

 

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

Get A Room!

July 5th, 2018

I am getting fed up with people, who insist on having loud private conversations in public spaces and zero respect for those in earshot.

There is a 55 year old Managing Partner of a London VC, who insists on having private conversations in public communal areas of my office. Interviews, HR issues, investment committee discussions and entrepreneur meet-ups, he ploughs on. “Peter Thiel knows me well, if he walked in here he’d be so impressed….” was a pearl!

When someone is so visibly insensitive to the world, I am staggered, who would work for, co-invest or welcome him as an investor. Yet clearly, over 25 businesses have sort his help, hundreds of HNWs are happy to have him spouting off and even, the British Business Bank apparently are soon to be in cahoots….

Perhaps he thinks no one is watching or commenting about the beliefs that in form his poverty mindset and indiscreet behaviour.

 

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The Fear of Referrals

July 4th, 2018

There are some people, who are instinctively uncomfortable about referring others even from a trusted source. The resistance is more often than not about their own self-worth. Don’t dwell on their fears or trying to overcome them, move on.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Lousy Speaker Requests

July 3rd, 2018

If you are trying to understand the value of public speaking at an industry event, professional association or private gathering, here is some tell-tale signs it is unlikely to be a valuable use of your time:

1. The Event Host is visibly disorganised, requests go unanswered, your contribution is unclear or is constantly being moved.

2. The Event Host is too busy to introduce you to fellow panel members or the moderator pre-event.

3. The Speaker list is overweight in providers and suppliers, who are clearly only there because of their sponsorship.

4. The Moderator slots are predominantly reserved for professional service firms who are sponsors, not because of their moderating skills.

5. The location is visibly “cheap”, located in an underwhelming part of town that operates successfully solely because of the high volume of low margin events.

6. The Event Host is a highly commercial organisation that operates on a constant churn of events each year. If in doubt email me.

7. You don’t recognise any of the keynote speakers as global experts in their particular domain.

8. The commercial event model operates on a free or massively discounted incentive to a particular category of participant, at the expense of professional service firms (a feeding frenzy forms around those few “special guests”).

9. You find little or no significant track record of meaningful media coverage for the event within your industry or in the mainstream business media.

10. You find the same old faces chairing or moderating the event each year. One London Wealth Management event insisted on the media company’s Chairman, Alan, the dullest man in the world, chairing 18 events in a row!

11. Less than 30% of the Agenda is reserved for “new” topics not previously covered in the prior 3 years.

12. Mention is made of “Continuing Assessment” credits for attending the event. Who really needs those other than mid- and lower level employees (rarely buyers of your services).

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.

 

The “Ask”

June 28th, 2018

 

How direct is acceptable when making the “ask” in a business or social setting? That question had me thinking watching a young huckster approach two pretty girls that he clearly had never met at London’s Masterpiece art fair last night with the line “I’d like to take you out, can I have your telephone numbers?”. That they handed them over with a nervous giggle and 30 seconds of mumbling conversation shocked my wife. In an insta-glam world of dating, perhaps that is increasingly the norm. Do we really forsake building a trusting relationship for a quick response? In business, in my experience, that only works for life insurance salesman and charlatans.

© James Berkeley 2018. All Rights Reserved.